Proud As A Paris Peacock
Again this year I staked out a front row table at the Café Français at place de la Bastille and waited for the parade to come in. About 4:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon, the music, the merriment and the floats arrived coming up boulevard Henri IV and spilled into the “place.”
This is one of Paris’ most popular annual events — the Gay Pride Parade and Festival which attracts at least half a million people each year from all over the world…individuals, associations, trade unions, political parties, organizations and commercial establishments all for the defense of human rights.
There was so much androgyny that it became impossible to tell one from another…and nobody cared. Bertrand Delanoë, Paris’ openly gay mayor, was there — he was applauded as he passed by the crowd, his arms raised high.
Dozens of floats passed before us each separated by a group of unofficial paraders. The Durex float appeared again this year — a giant condom spewing foam into the air landing in our hair and on our clothing. Many of the important French organizations were represented, too: The RATP with a decorated city bus, the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) and Air France (one of my favorites) whose flight attendants are in uniform except for their rainbow-colored ties doing a dance routine resembling their in-flight safety instruction movements!
From the floats, some handed out free condoms and safe-sex literature. It reminded me of Mardi Gras in New Orleans and I wanted to shout “Throw me somethin’ mister!” just like you do to the carnival krewes throwing beads and trinkets.
Associations from all over the world participated. One numerous group of very large men, each and every one with an enormous belly, mostly shirtless, or shirted but with suspenders, was the most surprising for me and I wondered what was their origin — surely not French! Another group to catch everyone’s eyes were beautiful transsexuals with breast implants showing off their perfectly reconstructed mammary glands.
The costuming was fantastic. There was a man wearing butterfly wings about three meters high. Lots and lots of men in fabulous drag and elaborate costumes and make up parading like peacocks…I knew their feet must be killing them wearing high heels for so many kilometers. There was Cleopatra with a gilded face… a male groom with a male bride…Gothics tattooed and pierced. With the symbolic rainbow motif everywhere, I was angry at myself for not thinking to wear the colors. My daughter keeps a rainbow dress in her closet just for this special occasion.
I saw no incident of rowdiness or drunkenness — just dancing and good-time fun. I took dozens of photos and everyone was in good spirits, stopping to pose for my camera. Even two young men dressed in drag wearing 12-inch high platform shoes who hobbled in pain to a nearby ledge to rest didn’t mind me catching them in their misery. Most of the photos I took AREN’T publishable — they’d make Janet Jackson’s exposure look like child’s play!
The parade lasted about three hours and at the end, the green clean-up crew followed suit so that within a few meters, the streets were immaculate with no trace of the festivities left behind.
Another Paris Gay Pride Parade left vividly in our memories…
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
E-mail: [email protected]
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